Skip to Content

Are chocolate brown eyes rare?

Are chocolate brown eyes rare?

Brown eyes are one of the most common eye colors in the world, but chocolate brown eyes specifically are considered quite rare. The exact shade of brown eyes a person has is determined by the amount and type of melanin pigment in the iris. More melanin leads to darker brown tones. Chocolate brown is on the darker end of the brown eye color spectrum and requires a higher concentration of melanin. Only about 5-10% of the global population has this distinctive eye shade.

What Causes Chocolate Brown Eyes?

Eye color is determined by genetics. Brown eyes contain a large amount of melanin, while blue eyes contain very little. The OCA2 gene located on chromosome 15 determines how much brown melanin is produced in the iris. The HERC2 gene activates OCA2, leading to large quantities of melanin production and brown eyes. Chocolate brown eyes have a variant of the OCA2 allele that causes even higher melanin concentrations, creating a rich, dark brown tone. This allele is quite rare globally, making chocolate brown a uniquely exotic eye color.

Geographic Distribution of Chocolate Brown Eyes

Chocolate brown eyes are most common in certain ethnic groups and geographic regions. Populations that tend to have higher rates of OCA2 allelic variants leading to extreme melanin include:


Countries in Africa have some of the highest rates of chocolate brown eyes in the world. This is due to natural selection favoring darker eye colors along the equator to protect against UV radiation. Nigeria, Congo, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe tend to have high numbers of people with chocolate irises.

Southern India

Southern India also has a notable incidence of rich chocolate brown eyes due to higher melanin levels. The states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu exhibit this exotic eye shade more frequently.

Middle East

Populations in the Middle East, especially around Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen also exhibit chocolate brown at higher than average rates. The genetic makeup of these ethnic groups favors very dark pigmentation.

Latin America

Latin American countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina have significant mixing of European, African, and indigenous genetics. This blend results in chocolate brown eyes appearing more often than worldwide averages.

Rarity of Chocolate Brown Eyes Globally

When looking at the global human population, chocolate brown eyes stand out as unusually rare compared to lighter brown and other eye shades. Here are some statistics on the worldwide frequency of this distinctive iris color:

– About 70-90% of people worldwide have brown eyes in some shade. However, most of these are medium or light brown.

– An estimated 5-10% of the global population has chocolate brown eyes specifically.

– In contrast, more common shades like amber, hazel, and chestnut brown make up around 30-40% of the world’s population.

– Light brown eyes account for around 15-25% of people worldwide.

– Blue and green eyes are globally rare at around 8-10% combined but still more common than chocolate browns.

So while brown eyes in general are extremely common, the darkest chocolate shade stands out as unusually exotic worldwide.

Genetic Factors for Chocolate Brown Eyes

Chocolate brown eye color depends on two key genetic factors:

OCA2 Gene Alleles

The OCA2 gene determines melanin production. People with chocolate brown eyes possess a rare variant of OCA2 that produces more melanin than typical brown eye versions. This allele likely originally arose in Africa due to natural selection for protection against sun exposure.

Genetic Combinations

Most chocolate brown eyed individuals have parents who both carry alleles for brown eyes. When these recessive alleles combine, there is a 25% chance of the rare dark brown phenotype developing. Ethnic groups with higher rates of dark pigmentation alleles have higher odds of exhibiting chocolate browns.

Parent 1 Genotype Parent 2 Genotype Child Genotype Child Phenotype
BB BB BB – 100% chance Chocolate Brown
BB Bb BB – 50% chance
Bb – 50% chance
Chocolate Brown – 50% chance
Regular Brown – 50% chance
Bb Bb BB – 25% chance
Bb – 50% chance
bb – 25% chance
Chocolate Brown – 25% chance
Regular Brown – 50% chance

Non-Brown – 25% chance

As seen above, both parents must carry at least one rare dark pigmentation allele (B) for their child to potentially inherit the chocolate brown eye phenotype.

Comparison to Other Rare Eye Colors

Chocolate brown is one of several eye colors that occur infrequently in the global population. Here’s how it compares to the rarity of other unusual eye shades:

Eye Color Global Population %
Green 2%
Amber 5%
Chocolate Brown 5-10%
Violet/Red Less than 1%
Heterochromia 0.06%

As shown, chocolate brown is more common than very rare colors like violet, red, and heterochromia. But it remains much rarer than ubiquitous shades like amber, hazel, and light brown eyes. This makes it stand out as both exotic and striking.

Celebrities with Chocolate Brown Eyes

Chocolate browns grab attention for their rich, dark pigment. Many celebrities have this mesmerizing eye color:

Adriana Lima

The Victoria’s Secret supermodel has iconic chocolate brown eyes. They stand out against her Brazilian tan skin.

Bruno Mars

The part Filipino, part Puerto Rican singer wow’s fans with his smooth music and chocolate gaze.

Wentworth Miller

The Prison Break star turned heads with his acting skills and luxurious chocolate irises.

Diego Luna

The Mexican actor smolders on screen with his chocolate brown eyes.

Thandie Newton

This British actress of Zimbabwean heritage has vivid chocolate eyes that command attention.


In summary, chocolate brown eyes are one of the rarest eye colors globally. They require special melanin density in the iris controlled by genetic factors. Chocolate browns occur most frequently in certain ethnic groups, especilly in Africa, Southern India, the Middle East, and Latin America. Only around 5-10% of the world’s population has these exotic rich brown eyes. They stand out for their luxurious deep color. When paired with the right skin tone, chocolate browns have an extremely attractive allure. So in the end, those lucky few with chocolate irises should flaunt them proudly!